Gordon Brown will today follow Alan Johnson’s lead of last week and challenge David Cameron’s commitment to marriage and the family. The Chancellor will insist that government policy on the family should not be based on "ideological judgments". That, of course, is a deliberate misrepresentation of Tory policy. As David Cameron made clear on Sunday, Tory policy is empirical rather than ideological. It is based on the overwhelming body of evidence that points to the benefits of two parent families and the stability of marriage over cohabitation. It is Labour’s laissez-faire policy on the family that is doctrinaire.
Those who expect David Cameron to backtrack on his commitment to family policy are going to be disappointed…
- He has long been a supporter of stronger families and launched his 2005 leadership bid with a pledge to support marriage in the tax system.
He is persuaded by the evidence that many of Britain’s deep social problems are rooted in the problems of unstable home backgrounds. His advisers were very impressed by the evidence on family life put together by Dr Samantha Callan (pictured), who runs the family policy group of Iain Duncan Smith’s social justice task force.
- He knows that the social conservatives in the parliamentary party and critically important newspapers like the Daily Mail regard this policy agenda as vitally important.
- The party’s internal focus groups have suggested that voters do not know if David Cameron has ‘inner steel.’ Many floating voters apparently worry that David Cameron will say anything to get elected and doesn’t have core beliefs that he is willing to fight for. The commitment to the family – unpopular with many metropolitan commentators and Tory modernisers like Oliver Letwin – sends a strong signal that David Cameron does have core convictions.